No one wants to be at the centre of an emergency situation, but you don’t necessarily have a choice when you’re caught in the middle of a natural disaster, medical crisis, or an accident. Instead of worrying too much about it or simply dismissing the possibility that you’d be in an emergency, the best approach is to keep yourself on the ready. In addition to taking responsibility for your well-being, it’s also a must to prepare the people around you who may be most affected by such a situation, especially young children.
At first thought, it might seem too early to introduce a young child to the possibility that a flood, earthquake, heatwave, or any other dangerous situation can take place around them. However, kids are smarter than we give them credit for, and they are capable of stepping up and lending a helping hand in times of need—if they are taught what to do. What’s more, teaching them about disasters and emergencies early on will make them less likely to panic should such a situation arise.
How can you instil disaster preparedness in children? Here are 3 tips to keep them aware of and involved in your emergency plans:
- Emphasise preparation, not fear. There’s no going around it: emergencies can cause people of all ages to panic. It’s difficult to go against one’s fight or flight instinct in times of need, and adults must acknowledge that fact when teaching children. However, it’s also important to acknowledge a child’s current capabilities and to let them know that there are options other than running, hiding, or staying frozen in one place. Empower them to make smart decisions and to take control of their actions by giving them step-by-step instructions of what to do in case of a fire, for example. Young children may not yet be able to enrol in a first aid class in Brisbane or in their locality, but they can be taught the non-technical aspect of it, like staying calm and level-headed in panic-inducing situations.
- Use the right tools. Use child-friendly materials when discussing emergencies with children. These include books, videos, and other interactive tools that will make it easier for them to remember what to do in case an unexpected or potentially dangerous situation takes place near them. Teach them when and how to call the Triple Zero emergency number, too. You can play games like identifying emergency workers, identifying the signs of an emergency, and choosing the best course of action for a given situation. In addition, you can involve the children in shopping for emergency kits and have them help you out in monitoring and maintaining your family’s emergency supplies. These are fun activities that will make the lesson stick and make a child feel included.
- Teach them how to communicate well. One of the earliest emergency preparedness lessons that you can teach children of any age is proper communication. Kids should be made aware of what constitutes an emergency, who and how they can ask for help, and how to describe the situation to other people. You can also try role-playing a call to the Triple Zero emergency number or a conversation with an emergency worker. This will make it easier for them to communicate their situation and needs to the people who are best equipped to provide them with help.
Teaching emergency preparedness to children gives them the confidence to act and make decisions in times of need. What’s more, these lessons will set a good foundation for when they are ready to learn skills and techniques that will allow them to keep themselves safe and to extend assistance to others.
*This article is for informational purposes only and does constitute, replace, or qualify as RPL for our first aid training courses.